I never worked as hard in any paid job as I have in my role as mother and general manager of our household, writes Charlotte de Vreeze-Nauta.

When I was pregnant with our eldest, one of my brothers asked me whether I would keep on working or stay at home once our baby was born.

I had the freedom to choose as my husband had us covered and my colleagues and I were always joking anyway that our salaries just about covered one carton of milk.

I first wanted to see how I would feel about leaving our three-month-old in a creche from 06:30 until 18:30 before making any decision.

My brother felt that if I stopped working, I had to pay back the state’s student’s allowance as I would have cost the state money but was not giving anything back to society. It would be a waste. I would be a waste…

I snapped at him that we would make that calculation once both our children were adults: mine having grown up in my care, amounting to well-balanced nice people, and his, being neglected in a creche, ending up as crackheads and delinquents. I didn’t mean that, though. Well, not entirely.

But it’s not just my brother – many of my friends (and society at large) seem to look down on stay-at-home parents. As if choosing to take full time care of one’s children is inferior to one’s other abilities. Sure. There is very little praise and applause to be had from being a full-time parent. You hardly get a chance to prove your intelligence or show case your talents to the outside world.

Success is only for CEO’s, famous singers and rich entrepreneurs. People climbing the corporate ladder. Not for an average stay-at-home mom who has finally taught her child not to pick its nose or colour on the walls and desperately trying not to give in to the urge to binge on chocolate or resort to day drinking.

Well, I may not be working in the sense that I have a boss and a salary and an office to go to. But I have never worked as hard in any paid job as I have in my role as mother and general manager of our household. And it has taught me more than any job I had before becoming a parent.

I am a cook, electrician, taxi driver, cleaner and so much more on a practical level. More importantly, I am a counselor, mediator, coach, teacher, therapist, all in one. Not just for a couple of hours per day, but at least 16-hours a day!

Many of my working friends joke that the days at their work are actually their days off. These are the only days that they drink their coffee while it is still warm, have meaningful conversations with colleagues and are relieved from singing ‘The wheels on the bus go round and round’, on repeat.

Do I get a round of applause for my cooking? Or a bonus for the thousandth laundry basket I have filled? Or a promotion for the life lessons I give to my kids? No, there is no reward and there is no LinkedIn appraisal for our achievements as a parent. You’re operating in the shadows, and nobody gives a flying f*ck about how you do it.

In fact, when asked about their job, all a stay-at-home parent gets upon answering is a raised eyebrow and an awkward silence. Because people simply do not know what to talk about or what to ask you, when you do not have a job.

This is different for pensioners, because they have already paid their dues to society. But stay-at-home parents? Not so much.

Before you get angry with me: I know that I speak from a luxury position. I realise that many people do not have the choice. They need to work to afford the roof over their head and get food on the table. I am fully aware. And I am extremely grateful for the fact that I can choose. And that I have had the luck to spend so much time with the most beautiful beings in the world.

All I ask is that we stop looking down on stay-at-home parents, stop judging people that make different choices and just be more respectful. Live and let live.